Daily Archives: Thursday, 18 December, 2008

Gabriel’s muse—a meditation for Advent 4

It was a very interesting mission, a very interesting mission indeed. Yes, it was…

I knew I was in for something really important when the Almighty called for me. It was something in the tone, a sense of urgency, yes, but also a sense of excitement. And it takes a lot to get the Almighty excited!

Of course, any job I was called to do would have to be important, I know that. The archangel Gabriel doesn’t get summoned to do menial tasks, no, I’m loooong finished with that sort of thing. No, I am sent to kings and great prophets. I announce great portents and forecast great events. I’d just been to see an important priest, Zechariah, whose wife was to bring the forerunner of the Messiah into the world. He didn’t believe me, so I struck him speechless. Serves him right!

So I unfolded my wings and hurried up, flying across heaven, narrowly missing a group of newcomers unused to dodging an archangel with things to do, places to go, the Person to see…

If it were possible for an angel to be out of breath, I would have been when I finally arrived at the Throne. I brushed some gold dust off my gown, and waited.

I wasn’t kept long, and then I was ushered into the Presence. I was almost intoxicated with anticipation! What could this assignment be?

(Of course, you do know that the word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’? That’s what I am, a messenger of God. When I am sent, I go with God’s authority to speak God’s message. I just love it!)

Well, I was flummoxed, baffled, bewildered and bemused when I came out of the Presence. I had my message, I had the name of the person I had to see, I had a location. 

I had to see not a king, not even a priest, but some slip of a village girl called Mary. There are lots and lots of Marys. Never heard of this one. And the message was—well—embarrassing. If I could blush, I would!

And the place? Nazareth? Where was that? I was so indignant about this so-called mission that I forgot to ask! And I just knew it was doomed to failure!

I tried to find one of the other archangels to get it off my chest, but Michael and the rest were all out on missions too. Important missions. I on the other hand had to find a one-horse town called Nazareth.

Luckily for me, I knew it was in Israel somewhere. I flew backwards and forwards across the country about a hundred thousand times before I finally located it. Took me three whole nanoseconds! Not one of my better efforts, I must admit.

I entered Nazareth, and there she was. Mary. Just a skinny young girl really, but even I could see there was something about Mary. I quickly looked into my reflection in the village pond, saw that I was presentable, and walked up to her. And I said,

Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.

It always happens. No one expects to see an angel. They’re always scared. So I said,

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.

And I went right on:

And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

I knew she’d say this next bit. I didn’t want her to, but here it came. She said:

How can this be, since I am a virgin?

This was the embarrassing bit, the bit I didn’t want to do. I said (because I’m just the messenger):

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.

I don’t know how that was supposed to happen, but that’s the message I had to give.

I expected her to say No thanks, not today thank you very much, I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m washing my hair tonight. But no. She said,

Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.

I’ll do it, she said. Just like that! Not knowing where it would take her or what would happen, she said Ok. She surely knew the tongues of the village gossips would start clacking, but she went ahead anyway.

From that moment, my admiration for Mary knew no limits.

I’d delivered the message, so I left her then. I knew the Son of God would be in safe hands. Mary’s ‘Yes!’ was going to change the world.

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